Applying for FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: Balance

It is what we want to maintain, whether on a tightrope, a ledge high above in an apartment complex, or just walking from the living room to the kitchen.  For, without it, the silent agreement we have made with the objective world would suddenly topple, and we would be lying horizontally and seeing the world from the ground up, as opposed to the vertical manner in which we ambulate, and observing the world from above.

In our lives, as well, in addition to the manner in which we walk about, we talk about maintaining a “balance” — a metaphor, surely, about the proper coordination between work, personal time, family interaction, activities with or without relations, and the healthy engagements needed in order to perpetuate a semblance of sanity.  We also talk this way about the medicines we ingest; of dietary balance, chemical imbalances and a more Aristotelian view of remaining in the “middle ground” where the two extremes are avoided.

Life itself is a force to contend with; for, it is “life” in general which is in a constant battle against us, trying to tip our equilibrium and mess with that “balance” that we all strive to maintain.  Medical conditions, as well, suddenly tip the balance with gale-force winds that irreverently disregard our wants and needs.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who sense this “out-of-balance” world because a medical conditions has tipped the scales and made everything out of whack, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM may be the answer you are looking for.

Medical conditions themselves have a way of making life “out of balance”, and it may be that a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is what is required in order to bring things back into their proper order and balance. Consult with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law; for, in the end, it is balance maintained which allows for the regaining of one’s health, while all of the “rest of it” is trying to perpetuate the chaos of imbalance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: That cup of tea

It is the symbol of a quieter life; of a pastoral time of past remembrances, where the slower pace accorded a tranquility now lost forever.  It is referred to in many of William Trevor’s short stories — of that time in England when people still sat around and had “that cup of tea”.  For, somehow, the notion of fine china, the curling wisps of winding steam and the aroma of warmth and comfort retain a resonance of civility, quietude and the sentiment of calmer times.

Coffee, on the other hand, betrays a greater americanism — of forging ahead, forever seeking progress and movement, a person on steroids who cannot take the time, will not, and in fact has no time for the silliness of having that cup of tea.  That is why coffee is taken on the road, in plastic or styrofoam cups; in mugs and sturdy, thick jugs; whether plain, with a bit of milk and with or without sugar.

The two represent different times; of lifestyles gone and replaced; of civility and crudity.  Starbucks and others have tried to gentrify the cup of coffee, of course, and to create different “Internet cafes” with sophisticated-sounding names for lattes, “XY-Americano” or some similar silly-sounding names; but in the end it is the bit of coffee painted with a lipstick on the pig, and it remains the shot of coffee that provides the taste.

People are like that; and we all reminisce about times past, of “good old days” and for some, we miss that cup of tea.  For the greater society, the two contrasting flavors of a drink represent a bifurcation of sorts: One, for a kind of life we long for; the other, the reality within which we find ourselves.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the distinction between the cup of tea and the mug of coffee is like a metaphor of one’s own circumstances: the body and mind requires that cup of tea; the reality that swirls around demands the mug of coffee.

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is perhaps the antidote to the growing problem.  While it may not be every person’s cup of tea, it is something that — given the environment of the Federal Agency and the Postal Service in requiring every worker to act like a caffein-induced maniac — may medically indicate a change from the coffee-centered culture that cannot sit even for a brief moment to enjoy that distant reverberation of fine china clinking amidst the calm of a quiet morning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The historical data

How much historical data is too much?  Is there a correlation between “too much” and “loss of interest”? In other words, when a history book is written, does the interest shown by the reader begin to wane when a certain point of quantitative overload begins to overwhelm?  Further, does the audience for whom the historical data is written depend upon the extent given?

Certainly, “popular” historical narratives provide “juicier” content than more “serious” biographies, where the salacious aspects of a person’s life or of an event are put to the fore, as opposed to relegating them to footnotes or in those “fine print” pages at the back of the book.

If, for example, data is compiled for an internal study for the “Historical Society of X”, then certain detailed information without limitations might be included — i.e. how many times this or that civilization went to war, went to the bathroom daily, ate one kind of fruit as opposed to another, etc. But if that “study” were to be made into a biography of an indigenous tribe, to be sold to the general public, it might leave out certain of the more uninteresting data, or placed in footnotes or “background notes” at the back of the book.

At what point does a historical narrative become “tedious”?  Again, is there a correlation between “interest shown/sparked/waning/losing” and the extent of data provided?  Is there a “qualitative” difference as opposed to sheer quantitative overload?

These issues are important to keep in mind when a Federal or Postal employee begins to write one’s narrative in response to questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  For, there is always a tendency on the part of the Federal or Postal applicant to have this unquenchable desire to “tell one’s story”, as opposed to answering the question on SF 3112A in as precise, concise and incisive manner.

At times, some amount of historical background may be relevant and somewhat necessary, but unlike “internal studies” that have no cognizable consequences in providing “too much” information, an overabundance of irrelevant data provided may have a duality of negative results: First, it may take away from, and diminish, the “main point” of the narrative, and Second, you may be providing information that is inadvertently harmful to one’s OPM Disability Retirement case without intending to.

Remember always in a Federal Disability Retirement case, that the eyes that once see cannot be blinded after the fact, and it is better to provide information as a supplemental means in a Federal Disability Retirement case, than to have to explain, correct and amend after a denial is received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Authentication

There is a process and means by which it is accomplished — as in authenticating a painting or an antique piece of furniture, jewelry, etc.; of an autograph or handwritten letter (although, many will say that in the field of forensic sciences, handwritten analysis is far from reaching a vaunted level of precision or reliability); of a pet’s pedigree or even of a person’s right to have access to sensitive information, etc.

Authentication is thus a process of verification, of identifying X as being Not-Y in many instances, where exclusion by elimination of other possibilities results in the declaration of the genuineness of the person or thing declared to be so.

When applied to an object, it inspects and compares against other objects within a historical context, style, peculiar features of an artisan’s eccentricities, period-characteristics and signature features, etc.  When applied to an individual, it may take into account physical features as well (appearance; finger prints; voice matching; DNA sample, etc.), but could also encompass questions posed and answers given, and depending upon the comparison to known archives of historical background checks made against statements previously provided, deem that an “authentication” has been reached concerning the “true” identity of an individual, akin to declaring that a painting previously unverified is in fact a product of this or that “Master”, or that an antique furniture piece was the craftsmanship of some famous cabinetmaker during the Jeffersonian Renaissance period or from some pop-culture minimalist timeframe during the early Sixties, etc.

The process of “authentication”, of course, can be distinguished from whether or not an individual is living an “authentic life”, as well, and here, the meanings become somewhat muddled and divided.  One can be “authenticated” and be allowed access to sensitive banking information, be allowed to use a credit card, write a check, etc., and still live an inauthentic life (e.g., act like someone you are not, present yourself as a “family man” despite all the while committing multiple affairs; live a double or triple or even a quadruple life and deceive everyone around, etc.).

The process in reaching a conclusion as to whether a person is living an authentic or inauthentic life is somewhat different from “authenticating” a person.  For, to engage in the former analysis, it is normally done for the most part as a self-analysis (i.e., only the person who is living an inauthentic life can know for certain whether it is so or not), whereas the methodology imposed of “authenticating” a period-piece or an individual (the latter) is by applying a more objective standard of comparative review.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the dual issues of “authentication” and “authentic living” come to the fore, precisely because the Federal or Postal employee becomes forced into behaving in rather inauthentic ways.

Hiding the medical condition; trying desperately to work through the debilitating symptoms and maintaining an appearance of normalcy; and all the while trying to force a consistency between one’s capacity and the watchful eyes of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service — these are the elements that challenge the authenticity of one’s life.

Living an authentic life under normal circumstances is difficult enough; trying to authenticate one’s capacity to continue “as is” in the face of a progressively deteriorating medical condition makes it all the more challenging.  It may be that preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the only way forward in forging an authentic pathway away from an inauthentic morass that the medical condition has forced upon you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Just another bystander

There are primary characters, ancillary or peripheral personalities – and just another bystander.  Similarly, in personal relationships taken from a subjective “I” viewpoint, there are “close family members” (i.e., normally identified as the core within a nuclear family), “extended family”, and then there are “friends and acquaintances” — and just pure strangers.  Of course, the Internet, Facebook and other electronic devices have somewhat changed and altered the landscape of such relational directions, but we still know what it means to generally be “just another bystander”: to be out of the proverbial “loop” and perhaps observe, but otherwise uninvolved in the lives of those around, passing by or in the midst of a crisis developing.

Thus, when an accident occurs, a tragedy unfolds or a crisis develops, there are those who are referred to as “just another bystander”.  Or, if by tragic circumstances, that “bystander” becomes a victim either by happenstance or through “collateral” damage wrought upon surrounding neighborhoods, people, etc., we may refer to that person as an “innocent bystander” – as if the imputed adjective adds something more appropriate to engender empathy or description of haphazard events by which people can be randomly hurt.

Or, if intervention or interference imposes upon a situation by events unfolding, such an identification may be referred to in the past tense, as in, “He was just another bystander when event X occurred, and then he ran into the melee and helped the victims by…” In other words, by becoming “involved”, person X absolved himself by his very actions and thereby negated his prior status as a “bystander”, innocent or not.

The fact is, most of us are bystanders for most days of our lives; we walk through neighborhoods, streets and buildings inhabited by others, where others are engaging in commerce, relationships and interaction of daily living, and others, as well, are mere bystanders as they walk past us and bypassing our subjective interludes.  We expect others to maintain that status unless otherwise needed, and we retain with comfort such status in the courteous behavior towards strangers otherwise unnecessary for further interaction.  The problem becomes when we become bystanders within the role of our own lives.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, remaining a bystander when it is necessary to become an integral part in determining your own future is often a problem of self-will.  Watching the lives of others pass by is one thing; watching your own life pass by means that you are just another bystander when being a bystander is not the appropriate role to play.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the necessary next and proactive step in determining the future outcome of events unfolding. The medical condition you suffer from is already the “event”; what you do next will determine whether you are the primary character or a bystander – or, worse, an “innocent bystander” who then is referred to in the past tense.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Redshirt

In athletic parlance, it refers to an individual and a status, allowing for a fifth year of eligibility when the rules mandate a restriction to a four-year period.  The word itself is quite malleable, and reflects well the technicality involved in avoiding the direct letter of the language.  Being a redshirt (noun), a redshirt freshman (adjective) or redshirted in his first year (verb) reveals to us the capacity of language to jump like grammatical forms of hopscotching that amazes and intrigues; and the cautionary prelude to a wink-and-a-nod is prefaced with, “You are being too literal”.

It only proves the point, doesn’t it — of the age-old adage that rules are created with the intent of being broken; or, at least bent in order to fit?  For, once such rules were imposed in order to allow for “fairness” in collegiate sports, the “legal technicians” (i.e., lawyers) went immediately to work upon coming up with novel interpretations, strategies for avoidance, and advice to extend beyond what the limitations allowed.

“Redshirting” was one of the devised methodologies – of allowing for everything up to the critical line of demarcation:  that of playing in a game itself.  Thus, the redshirt can practice with the team throughout that entire year of eligibility, but such actions do not count; the redshirted freshman can attend classes, be a full-fledged partner in the “college life”, and yet his participation is not marked against him or her; and to be redshirted in that year of eligibility allows for growth, maturity, advancement in development – all without “using up” a year of eligibility by being sacked a hundred times during the season and becoming a shattered soul devoid of self-confidence and losing assurance of one’s talents and skills.

It is, within the athletic community of college consortiums, a brilliant strategy to deftly avoid the burden of rules; for the greater society, it reflects the essence of what is wrong, precisely because it is a deliberate attempt to avoid the literal language of the rules.  Yet, that is true of almost everything in life, is it not?

Careful study; identifying the loopholes; then initiating the strategy to maneuver around landmines and obstacles.  Is it any different than a hunting party tracking a prey, sniffing out the signs of predatory confirmation and taking in information and adapting accordingly?  Rules, regulations and laws may well be designed, initially, at least, to address a specific problem; and, out of the cauldron of an enacted statutes, comes multiple other problems and issues because of the malleability of words and imprecise linguistic pauses.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is no different.  It is a necessary prerequisite to identify the legal language of eligibility; define the issues; identify whether or not the Federal or Postal employee considering such an option “fits into” the legal criteria circumscribed; then to proceed to “redshirt” one’s own situation and devise a methodology for eligibility.

Compiling the evidence, formulating the proper narrative, and presenting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can thus be likened to the redshirting of a freshman – in order to extend one’s life beyond the debilitating medical conditions otherwise shortening the career of a promising Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire